RUMFORD — October is still five months away, but local volunteer group Envision Rumford and event-hosting company Gaskyl Productions are already kicking off preparations for the third annual Rumford Pumpkin Fest.

Kris Howes, a tattoo artist from InkMaine on Congress Street, who also runs Gaskyl Productions, said that his company is taking over the organization of the event, which is scheduled for Oct. 11.

Envision Rumford was responsible for the event’s organization in prior years.

His first step in preparing for the event will come in the form of a kickoff planning meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 19, on the second floor of the 49 Franklin Reception Hall on Franklin Street.

Among the new ideas that Howes said he will bring to the table at the meeting includes a “new centralized street layout,” a sitting area for residents to mingle and socialize, and a stage for bands and entertainment.

“One thing I noticed about the Pumpkin Fest is that there was no place for people to sit down and hang out,” Howes said. “I was thinking that we could set up some picnic tables for people to sit down and socialize, and local businesses and residents can have the chance to sponsor a table. We would put the businesses’ logo on the table, and after the festival is done, the business gets to keep the table.”

“I want to try and get as much input from people as possible,” Howes continued. “I’m not trying to change everything about the festival. I’m just trying to take what’s there already and improve on it.”

Although Gaskyl Productions is organizing the event this year, Howes added that Envision Rumford is “still very much involved” in the festival.

“They’re still the main source of funding for the project,” Howes said.

Howes said that he started Gaskyl Productions “around 12 years ago” and used it in an effort to host concerts in Vermont and New Hampshire and tattoo expos in Lewiston and Portland.

“For a while, I put it aside and focused on InkMaine, but I thought that this could be a good way to bring it back and help the community,” Howes said. “We’ve done a lot of benefits around town, whether it was the Pumpkin Fest or the Lumberjack Festival. I’ve always thought about getting into organizing events around town.”

Howes added that all festival fund sponsors who donate $30 will receive a wood-and-glass plaque from Portland Glass that will be on display at the festival.

For more information, contact Howes at 207-364-1550 or Tammi Lyons at 207-364-3355, ext. 221, or visit www.facebook.com/events/1492466470984560.

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